McDonalds Takes Steps to Prevent More MCD (Health)

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

CBS News: A CBS news report this evening essentially says that USDA's actions are not protecting the US meat supply.

Golden Arches Get Tough

McDonald's Insists Meat Producers Certify Products As Mad Cow Safe. Wants To Ensure Animals Have Not Been Fed Banned Feed Action Having Ripple Effect Throughout Industry

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2001 Tuesday, March 13, 2001 - 08:32 PM ET

(CBS) In the most aggressive move yet taken by any American company against the threat of mad cow disease, McDonald's one of the largest beef buyers in the world will demand proof the cattle used in its hamburgers were fed under rules to prevent mad cow disease.

McDonald's stresses this is just a precaution, reports CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews.

"There was no specific risk or threat," a spokesman said. "but there was a compliance issue," a reference to worries that U.S. cattle aren't being raised in accordance with regulations meant to keep mad cow disease out of the United States.

Because mad cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), is thought to be spread in cattle feed made from sick cows, the U.S. has banned the practice of feeding any animal material to U.S. cattle.

But compliance problems surfaced in January, when U.S. officials found 700 U.S. feed makers were not even labeling prohibited cattle feed. A labeling mistake by feed maker Purina led the government to isolate one cattle herd near Gonzalez, Texas.

"We have had five recalls of animal feeds because of improper labeling so far, where we have gone out and taken it off the market," said Dr. Steven Sundloff of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine.

The fast-food giant has given packers until April 1 to document that the cattle they buy have been fed in accordance with the federal rules.

Europe's cattle industry suffered severe losses after consumers began shunning beef because of fears that humans can contract a similar brain disease from eating meat infected with BSE.

Mad cow disease is linked to a new variation of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which has killed some 80 Europeans since the mid-1990s, mostly in Britain.

"Here in the U.S., it's always been BSE-free. We want to keep it that way," McDonald's spokesman Walt Riker said Tuesday.

Beef processors will be audited by McDonald's to ensure they have the required records, Riker said.

The U.S. feed industry admits to having difficulties with labeling but insists there is no mad cow problem.

"They may have labeled it wrong," said David Bossman of the American Feed Industry Association. "That does not make, in any way, the feed supply unsafe nor does it make the beef supply unsafe."

The cattle and feed industries say they welcome the McDonald's move because it will focus ranchers and farmers on the mad cow threat from infected cattle feed.

They believe most U.S. ranchers fear losing McDonald's business more than they fear the government.

McDonald's action has had a ripple effect throughout the industry, officials say. Major meatpackers, including IBP Inc., Excel and ConAgra, have told their cattle suppliers they must document their compliance with the feed rules.

"If McDonald's is requiring something of their suppliers, it has a pretty profound effect," said Janet Riley, a spokeswoman for the American Meat Institute, which represents packers.

The Livestock Marketing Association has advised its members to begin requiring documentation from cattle producers or risk being unable to sell to slaughterhouses.

McDonald's, which has 28,000 restaurants worldwide, has previously used its marketing muscle to impose animal-welfare standards on egg producers and slaughterhouses.

"Because we have the world's biggest shopping cart, we can use that leadership to provide more focus and order throughout the beef system," Riker said. "Things are getting better organized, better aligned, better segregated at the feed lot level. This has created a whole chain reaction throughout the beef system."

-----------------

At first glance this sounds like a wonderful idea; however, unlike chickens and hogs where some companies have complete vertical intregration (from conception to wholesaling/retailing), the cattle industry includes many thousands of small producers, like myself, who supply calves to feedlots through a livestock auction. If I were to take in 40 calves, they might be sold to a dozen different buyers. Even the hog and lamb industry still buys from small producers. It wouldn't surprise me the next time I take cattle to the auction I will have to sign a statement swearing they were not fed any MBM or other animal byproducts. It then becomes based on the word of the person signing the statement. Still this is an encouraging sign when McDonalds tells their suppliers they had better be in compliance with FDA rules or to look for another buyer.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), March 14, 2001

Answers

I'm glad to see corporate America trying to do something. All small farmers and large should realize we will only hurt ourselves if we do not go with the guidlines of animal feed that is appropriate. We would be slitting our own throats to feed animal by products to our cattle. I think we are going to be looking at rising meat prices over the next several years. It will be to our benefit to keep our meat supply as safe as possible. And, by the way Ken, you come up with the best articles.

-- Patty {NY State} (fodfarms@slic.com), March 14, 2001.

It is good and it's a start. I was reading all this on the news pages this morning. But, like you said Ken, it's only as good as the person signing it. What they should do is totally stop production of animal by-products for feed supplements. Just stop making the stuff. It goes against the food chain anyway, and it just isn't natural. Maybe it's protein, but it's just too dangerous. I wonder if hunters were feeding Deer and Elk grain out west, you know they do it all the time. Now we have some sort starting out there.

If the moma cow was fed animal by-products her whole life, is it passed on to her calfs if she had it? Does frozen semen from Europe carry it? I've never heard anyone address these questions. There really is allot to think about.

CNN said this morning a case of Foot and Mouth was found in France.

-- Cindy in Ky (solidrockranch@hotmail.com), March 14, 2001.


I think it would be better,, if McD would buy beef in the USA, instead of overseas

-- Stan (sopal@net-port.com), March 14, 2001.

Ken - thanks for the article!! I agree with you and Cindy wholeheartedly!!!!!! It is good that something is being done, and it IS unnatural... Bovine forced cannibalism.... sure it happens elsewhere, too. Not to mention, the CJ disease is infecting deer and elk, guys - that's been in the news, too... But, because it only kills one in a million people, it doesn't get the same press.....

And I also agree about signing things. First off, it seems to me that if people are greedy enough to feed that stuff in the first place, why would they want to tell the truth.

Sort of like those forms you have to fill out when you get a gun.... What criminal is going to admit he has a felony record?????? Hmmmm.... same old same old....

As for McDonald's, they do get quite a bit of their meat from the US. Of course, the consumers in this country eat more Mickey D's than our producers can supply for!! So.... does all that foreign meat go into your Big Mack, or your Jewel/Kroger/Safeway/Piggly Wiggly meat racks??????

In Russia, the thing was they could go in there, but all their products had to be raised in Russia (USSR at the time, though who would know the difference??!!). All the beef, potatoes, etc. that go into Russian McDonalds' products are Russian grown. Not sure, but I think they did that in a couple other countries, too. We should do that here as well!!!!

-- Sue Diederich (willow666@rocketmail.com), March 14, 2001.


Sue:

As a cattle farmer, I am biased on this subject. If McD's bought only in the U.S. prices of their burgers might go up 10-20 cents each. Would that cause people to switch to Burger King or another competitor? Don't know. Locally I don't have a choice as far as a fast-food restaurant is concerned. Do know a lot of pre-pressed burger patties come in from South America and Australia, who can raise, process and ship them cheaper than what the U.S. can produce. Should the U.S. go back to trade isolatism? A free economy is a free world economy today. On the following thread I note I looked at a can of Green Giant Mushrooms Stems and Pieces in my pantry and found it is a Product of Indonesia. None of the cheaper store brands indicate a foreign origin.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), March 14, 2001.



Please read the book "Fast-Food Nation" and maybe you would not be so happy with McD. Tom

-- Tom (tjk@cac.net), March 14, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ